Review: Is Yamaha EZ300 Useful for Beginners?
The Yamaha EZ300 is the long-awaited successor to the popular 8 year-old Yamaha EZ220 that was released in 2012. Based on the latest Yamaha PSR-E373 portable keyboard, the EZ300 has the same new innovative features and functions, which I will elaborate in detail later. In shorts, it is a power house and a highly capable keyboard with a unique educational proposition for less than $250 USD.
The silver white chassis Yamaha EZ300 comes with 61 full-size keys with 4 levels of configurable touch sensitivity. The keys, although not weighted, have a firm and assured feel to it throughout the entire length of the keys. However, the keys are of a shiny plastic material instead of a matte and textured which can affect you when you play fast passages. The keys light up in red when you press it and also guides you on which keys to press when you playback the built-in 202 songs & exercises. When you no longer need the musical training wheels, they key lights can be turned off. Using an easily available USB cable, you can connect the keyboard to your computer and access an unlimited number of songs freely available on the internet to use with the key-lighting system which is a powerful educational feature.
One thing Yamaha hasn’t changed is the fabric speaker covers. These fabric covers are dust and pet fur magnets. They are also more delicate than metal or plastic speaker covers. The 5W speaker system was sufficient in previous models, however, in the current EZ300, the new beautiful sound samples and rhythm accompaniments deserve better amplification. At just above 10lbs (5kg), the EZ300 is not as lightweight as the ultraportable CasioTone keyboards from Casio, it is also not rechargeable by a USB power bank unlike the Yamaha PSS series. Instead, you can power the EZ300 with either 6 AA batteries or an electrical wall outlet. You can plug in a pair of headphones for quiet practice and plug in a pedal which can be used for sustaining the sounds like on an acoustic piano or for triggering various functions.
There are 7 teaching systems which harnesses the power of key lighting built into the Yamaha EZ300. The Chord Dictionary module is useful when you know the name of a chord but do not know how to play it. The Touch Tutor module gives a beginner the visual cue as to how hard or soft they need to play a note for a more musical expression. The Chord Study & Chord Progression modules familiarise the student with how various chord quality sounds like and teaches you the chord progression of familiar songs. Yamaha’s Keys to Success module allows the student to practice specific phrases of a song before eventually building up the multiple phrases to form a complete song. You get a performance assessment of each stage before you move on to the next. In the Listening, Timing & Waiting module of the EZ300, you start by listening to a phrase, then you work on the rhythmic timing of the exercise and then in step 3, the keyboard will wait for you to press the right notes of the song.
The EZ300 also boasts of a USB port that transmits & receives both MIDI and digital audio data. This feature coupled with Yamaha’s Rec’N’Share app allows you to record and share high quality audio and video on social media & messaging platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook & WhatsApp. Keyboards in this price range from other brands only transmit and receive MIDI data and not digital audio.
However, the built-in song recorder continues to be lack-lustre with the ability to only record 2 tracks per song while the competition can record up to 6 tracks for each of your song recordings.
The Yamaha EZ300 has made leaps and bounds over its predecessor. The Yamaha PSR-E373 has the best piano sound for under $200 USD and this EZ300 has that same high quality sample too. In fact, in the latest model update, the default piano sample in the EZ300 sounds better than Yamaha’s own keyboards costing twice as much.
With the EZ300, you get 48 notes of polyphony and a total of 622 voices that can be layered and split across the keyboard in the EZ300 (11 of these voices use the new super-articulation lite technology trickled down from Yamaha’s $5,000 keyboards). Coupled with the 38 new digital signal processing effects and 17 reverbs and choruses, you can shape your own personalised sounds, limited only by your imagination and creativity.
For those who prefer electronic dance music, the EZ300 comes with 22 drums and sound effects kit. When played along with the many synthesizer sounds and the built-in 150 pattern arpeggiator, you can imagine yourself being in a dance club. The EZ300 is an arranger keyboard. This means you can have an entire band to accompany your music just by playing chords on your left hand.
Synth and Arpeggiator
The EZ300 comes with a massive 205 rhythm styles covering Pop, Rock, Jazz, Ballroom, Latin and World Music. If you do not know how to set appropriate voices for your music, the EZ300 comes with a one-touch-setting feature that matches appropriate sounds with your selected rhythm automatically.
Latin and World Music
Vienna Waltz Style
Celtic Dance Style
However, the chord detection mode in the EZ300 does not have the option to play slash chords or detect chords across the entire keyboard which is available in every competitors’ keyboards in this price range. Moreover, with so many ways to configure the sounds, rhythms and settings on this keyboard, I am disappointed that Yamaha only gives the user 9 registration memory slots while competitors in this price range have at least 32 preset memory slots.
Most people who buy the Yamaha EZ300 are beginners who want to learn how to play the piano or keyboard. For less than $250 USD, you cannot find a more well-rounded package that is both powerful, feature-rich and extremely easy to use. Although there are a few shortcomings, these are not deal-breakers as a beginner will not need these features till a couple of years down the road. In my opinion, if you don’t need the key-lighting guide, you can save $50 and just get the Yamaha PSR-E373 but the EZ300 key lighting system is definitely worth the additional $50 if you are an absolute beginner and have no idea where the middle C note is.
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